This week, on LinkedIN, I’ve been listening to and engaging in very interesting HR & Talent Management group discussion on the question of whether results or relationships is more important to attend to in a corporate management context. The consensus seems to be that both are important, and that indeed you can’t get one without the other, indicating a form of mutual dependence. But which more often comes first? My own view is that the relationship is the more reliable pre-determinant, and if this is good enough will produce good enough results, leading to a mutual reinforcement and the production of excellence in both areas. This LinkedIn discussion also talked about the difficulty of managingthose relationships, and suggested reasons for managersshying away from allocating time to this important activity, often in the name of action orientation (need to get things done!) to produce, yes, results! So clearly the issue could all be around when there is a relationship issue, are the people involved aware that it exists, and if so, how capable are they at resolving it? It is therefore critical that relationship measurement and relationship development processes are available to leaders in the quest for excellent business results.
Whilst I know for sure from my own sport of 3 day eventing that my relationship with my horses is all important to delivering good competition results, I was keen to find some more evidence that this is the case in business. In a US national survey conducted in 2010 (Bennett & Associates, 2010), just over 89% of US VPs agreed that the strength of their business relationships had a highly significant impact on their ability to deliver business results. Also over 90% CEOs/Presidents attributed their annual business results to the strength of their relationships, both inside and outside the organisation. They also created a more detailed definition of what business relationships meant to these senior leaders – all the knowledge, expertise, value and reliability (highly tangible, ability related items) a person demonstrates to others as well as their integrity, trustworthiness and likeability (more intangible people focused elements).
How come, then, if relationships are so important, why does their presence seem so lacking on the measurements and data collection processes employed within common culture analysis and performance management frameworks? It may well be because relationships are so intangible and subjective, and therefore hard to measure properly without engaging some psychological principles.
Thankfully, the Relational Capital group have used the ‘warmth & competence’ model, which was developed by social psychologists (Fiske et al 2007) over the last 60 years, to create and validate the RQTM (Relational Quotient. This diagnostic metric is available to help leaders and managers understand how relations are currently working in their organisations and gives indications of the areas on which to focus development.
Interestingly, the warmth and competence model purports that when people forming their social perceptions of each other, warmth judgements are primary, meaning that we assess for human interaction positives before we pay attention to competence and ability indicators. This sounds like good proof for my own personal opinion that interview candidates with a positive, smiley expression and warm personality, are more likely to get invited to second interview and secure a job offer. So, apparently, extraverted warmth produces just the same excellent results in ongoing work relationships!
So we know that leaders can use the RQTM tool to find out what their corporate relationship status may be, but the question is often, so what next? They have more knowledge of the gaps and the need to improve, but how? In my experience, executives are often a little lost here - indeed, in the national survey quoted above, 58% of them agreed that they knew of no widely accepted method of building lasting relationships in organisations!
Again, probably in reaction to the demand, some highly effective relational approaches have developed over the last couple of years. The Q-Process, as one such example, offers a clear central human energising process for the relationship-oriented management of performance processes within organisations. This practice-based process is inspired by the quantum physics of energy transition and transposes it into the business context to emphasise the over-riding importance of human dynamics.
In addition, the T-SpaceTM process merges professional supervision principles with T-Group processes to offer a highly effective method of relationship development within organisational groups and teams. It uses proven tools such as dialogue, network mapping and group dynamics to generate powerful relational transformations, and release generative creativity within teams and workplaces
With corporate leaders and management team normally focused on driving corporate results, relationships are usually left to develop (or not) as a welcome by-product. However, now that theory-based and highly practical tools and processes exist for measuring and developing relationships, perhaps organisations’ top teams will move to adopt a parallel process approach to build results and relationships in harmony, so creating a substantially more optimised productivity.
Bennett & Associates (2010). RCG National Survey of 275 VP level and above executives.
Enterprise RQTM – Relational Capital Group – www.relationalcapitalgroup.com
Fiske, S. et al (2007). Universal dimensions of Social Cognition - warmth and competence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol 11, No.2
The Q Process. http://www.corporateuniversity.org.uk/acua/Quantum.htm